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On the road again…

Back in the saddle again in June 2014.

The terrific thing about wrapping up a semester is that you can turn your mind to fun future projects, cogitate a little more about what you want them to be, what shape and purpose they will have, and get a jump on making them a reality. That happened to me over the weekend regarding a mission of mine which has been incomplete since May 2010.

As those of you who followed my original Scotch Odyssey three years ago will know, I couldn’t make it to every distillery on my itinerary. The reasons for this were numerous: bike/boy breakdown, an overambitious route, misread opening times etc. etc. I had unfinished business with about eight distilleries in Scotland – and then a bunch of passionate people set about building more!

In June next year – all being well – I’ll graduate from the University of St Andrews. Between the formal termination of my final semester here in Fife and Graduation Week there are a few days begging to be capitalised upon and I feel I really ought to finish what I started prior to entering higher education in 2010. With the aid of Google Maps and the mega-litres of whisky experience I gained last time I packed my panniers and pedalled to the glens I have compiled a second route round Scotland which will see me cover nearly 1,200 miles in 20 days and visit thirteen malt whisky distilleries old and new.

The Scotch Odyssey Part II will begin here in St Andrews with Daftmill and Kingsbarns distilleries before I head north over the Tay to tick off Dalwhinnie and Tomatin. From there I wend my way into Speyside for the distillery I shouldn’t have missed last time round but did: The Balvenie. Then I swing by the Aberdeenshire distilleries of The GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh before skirting the Moray Firth on my journey to The Dalmore. I did visit this distillery in 2010 but in the meantime the visitor experience has been dramatically overhauled and I feel I really ought to spy those famous stills on the Cromarty Firth in this new light. Next I head to Balblair for my first tour as a punter, despite working there for a week in the summer of 2011.

I continue north to Clynelish which famously does not open for tours on a Saturday in late April. Then it’s time to head westwards: catching the ferry from Ullapool I visit the most westerly Scotch whisky distillery of them all, the spirit of Lewis, Abhainn Dearg. I will cycle down through Lewis and Harris to Tarbert before another ferry desposits me at Uig, Isle of Skye. From here it is an identical route to previously as I pedal off the island to Fort William. There will be a few long days in the saddle before I reach Clydebank and the Auchentoshan distillery. After a few more I hope to visit Annandale – if it is open to receive me – before wending my way back up to St Andrews.

Knowing what I know now about cycle touring I’m hoping to extract maximum adventure from my trip and I’ve invited any friends who wish to accompany of a leg or legs of the journey to do so. The real logistics of B&Bs, ferries and tour bookings have still to be made, and the fitness regime will have to start fairly sharpish. The Scotch Odyssey of 2010 is an undertaking I think about every single day and with every whisky I drink. I have high hopes for the next pilgrimage round Scotland’s beauty spots and barley-boiling stills.

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Ardbeg Islay Half-Marathon

I ran on Islay once. My tenure at Laphroaig had nibbled away at the brief window I had allowed to get myself from the Beautiful Hollow by the Broad Bay to my next port of call, and consequently I was late for the 11AM Lagavulin tour. My canter from my bike to Ruth and the rest of the tour party was all of 20 metres, however: on August 3rd, 165 people put trainer to tarmac to cover 13 island miles in the Ardbeg Islay Half-Marathon.

A percentage of those entrants sprinting out from Bowmore to Islay airport and back hailed from the whisky writing and retailing industries. Their goal overtook that of personal glory and a new PB, however. Last year Alan Lodge, a writer for The Spirits Business, passed away as a result of a brain haemorrhage. He was 29. Journalist colleagues, Ardbeg distillery staff and whisky retailers busted a gut to raise more than £5,000 for the National Brain Appeal.

Some of the drinks writers pounding through Bowmore. Photography by Phill Williams.

 

‘My family has been overwhelmed by the support we have received from the drinks industry folk since my brother passed away last year,’ said Hannah Grace Lodge. ‘It is evident how much Alan was loved by all in the industry; Ardbeg’s sponsorship of the half and for all of these wonderful people to run and raise money in Alan’s memory is such a testament to him. He always joked about being a legend… turns out, he kind of was one. Thank you so much to all who have been involved in supporting The National Brain Appeal in Alan’s name, he would be honoured.’

To convey a little of the cut-and-thrust of the event, Quercus’s press release suggests that high-drama sporting reportage as well as whisky broadcasts could be the company’s new niche: ‘Chris Losh was the first Ardbeg runner to finish (in 31st place overall) taking six minutes off his personal best with a blistering time of 1 hour 36 minutes. Richard Woodard finished in 1 hour 51 minutes beating his own PB set 30 years ago. Hamish Smith finished in just under two hours, a milestone that eluded veteran Olly Wehring. Joel Harrison entertained spectators by running in fancy dress. After an engrossing five miles of cat and mouse and cheered on by an ecstatic crowd, Sandrae Sharpen pounced to thrash a disconsolate Marcin Miller in the final straight. Several team members, including Laura Foster, Richard Siddle and Eduardo Vivas, bravely ran through injuries and extreme pain. Sian Deegan and Rachel Ramanathan adopted a bizarre strategy of starting 45 minutes before anyone else with a self-imposed handicap of running the course pushing a wheelbarrow full of peat…’ Splendid.

One competitor, Caskstrength.net’s Joel Harrison, remarked that running has become something of a passion. ‘Getting the correct kit has been key and makes running much more enjoyable (and the obvious results of increased fitness and the ability to eat and drink more, as I’m working it all off!)’ When asked about what he partook of in the race’s feed zones, Joel asserted that nothing bar water passed his lips. It must be said, of course, that Islay water is far more invigorating than your regular drop.

From my time cycling around the island, I remember the rearing, pitted roads and often relentlessly malign winds. ‘I’ve cycled around the island before, but with running, you get a sense of how the weather changes so quickly,’ Joel revealed. ‘One minute you’re boiling hot, the next soaking wet and so the cycle continues!’

‘I’d highly recommend everyone to have a go. It’s not easy, especially when you’re training is all in Central London (and as a result totally flat), but the challenge was excellent.’ Keep an eye out for entry forms for the 2014 event on the Islay Half-Marathon website. I am very tempted to have a go myself: leave the bike at home this time and see Islay with a running vest on.

 

Photography by Phill Williams.

 

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The Best of Blends

Revision, I have come to learn, is an exercise in segregation. No matter how often professors bandy about the word ‘holistic’, post-colonial readings of Shakespeare’s King Lear and the crisis in Victorian masculinity as Marxist resistance really ought to be cognitively kept apart. At least, such unholy mixtures seldom earn the better marks in examinations. However, feminist issues in the plays of Middleton persisted in forming unhelpful fusions with sexual subjection in Jane Eyre and I decided it was time for a break, and to muse on the best results of blending.

The pre-eminent panel of master blenders.

In April, I had reconvened with the International Spirits Challenge judges at Edinburgh’s Scotch Whisky Experience, a body of men and women towards whom I feel something like hero worship. For the second time, these illustrious master blenders – from Scotland, the USA, Japan and Sweden – had kindly agreed to an evening meet-and-greet, despite the demands of assessing some 200 whisky samples during the day. I start to tire after about eight whiskies (and that number decreases concerning new human acquaintances) so my admiration for their effort, energy and wisdom reached precipitous heights.

Brian Kinsman takes us through the SWE 25yo blend.

Prior to roaming the MacIntyre Gallery, we were treated to an on-arrival dram of the 25yo Scotch Whisky Experience blend. Put together by William Grant & Sons’ Brain Kinsman, this lush, mature offering contains whiskies from every shareholding company at the Experience, and commemorates the 25th Anniversary of the venue which is very much Edinburgh’s chief whisky tourism and education facility.

Upstairs, I wished to right a wrong perpetrated in the summer when I had failed to visit Billy Leighton at the Irish Distillers stand. At a given time of day, I am rather fond of Jameson, and at approximately 19:55 on Wednesday April 25th I was deeply impressed by the Jameson Gold Label Reserve. Apple, cinnamon and unctuous honey led the way on the nose, with an abundance of fresh grain. With time, the nose became buttery, with a trace of salt. The palate delivered: a big nectarine and barley punch, before vanilla led me into a drying finish.

Angela D'Orazio with the very special Mackmyra #10.

Billy revealed the economics behind the 100m euro Midleton expansion, which will push capacity up to 60 million litres of alcohol per year. In addition, he told us how crucial cask selection is to Jameson’s success, and that he remains central to cask monitoring, and ensuring no sulphur enters the system. Recent marketing meetings have focused on ‘creating craic’, and the warm, welcoming and loquacious Mr Leighton certainly ensuring there was a surfeit of that at his stand over the course of the evening.

Another omission from the previous Meet the Blenders line-up was Mackmyra. Here I shared in Chris ‘Tiger’ White’s wonderment at Angela D’Orazio’s latest creation, the Mackmyra Special #10. A Swedish exclusive for the time being, this whisky has been part matured in casks that have contained coffee bean-infused spirit: the beans macerated in whisky, casked for two weeks, then turned into a liqueur. I was stunned by the obvious coffee notes on the nose, but also marvelled at the crushed strawberry and fudgey malt character which was equally prominent. Add a glug of this to a short Americano and there can be no complaints.

Next door, I was drawn to the latest Balvenie, the 17yo Doublewood. The expression of the same name but five years its junior is something of a cult, and I was fascinated by this. Oppulent oak and stewed fruits surrounded a candy cane thread of fresh barley sugar for a whisky of admirable richness and engaging liveliness. As I said to Brian Kinsman, this is a whisky for which ‘effortlessness’ is the only adequate descriptor.

The beautifully simple Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition bottle.

Elsewhere, Caroline Martin presented the Johnnie Walker Gold Route, and Gordon Motion’s two bottles of the Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition vanished very quickly indeed. This was the first time I had seen the packaging for this impressive, feisty blend, and very taken with it I was, too.

Finally, the congregated whisky fans appraised The Dalmore Custodian – vibrant orange, vanilla and clove, with the distillery’s classic coffee overtones (although that could have been the last of the Mackmyra sitting in my nostrils), this was a fine final pour. Afterwards, the panel fielded questions from the floor, with one barbed comment concerning the lack of innovation in Scotch when compared with the likes of Mackmyra and the Japanese blends wringing an impassioned defence of Scotch whisky in the 21st century from Richard Paterson. While acknowledging the duty of care he and his colleagues shared regarding the proud heritage of the blended category in Scotland, Richard assured us that every possible permutation of whisky-making that is permitted by legislation is being presently investigated.

Progress and innovation is very much at the forefront of the Scotch priority list in response to committed global competition. John Ramsay, ISC chairman, related something Diageo’s Caroline Martin had said to him over the course of judging the Japanese expressions earlier that day: ‘this is getting a bit scary, John’.

A thoroughly convivial evening confirmed that blended whisky is very much leading the charge for flavour, personality and craft at the moment.

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My Unofficial Whisky Fringe

In the ever-expanding pantheon of whisky festivals, there is one that excites uncommonly rabid fervour: the Whisky Fringe. Between August 3rd and 5th, the eleventh outing of this malt extravaganza, organised by Royal Mile Whiskies, absorbed those whisky fanatics who were fortunate enough to come by a ticket (places are more highly sought-after than for the Tattoo, probably) and induced much envy and grumpiness in those who were not. I was one of the latter, and sat at home with my nose pressed up against the window pane that is Twitter, racked with sorrow.

However, and to atone for such a missed oppportunity in the Scottish capital at its moment of peak creativity and colour, I knew that the door to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society would be open to receive me. During a recent visit to the shows of the Festival Fringe, I dragged a few friends with me to the Society’s Queen Street venue where some stupendous acts awaited me.

The SMWS Queen Street bar.

Whereas the Vaults in Leith is confined to one level, and you sit in your fireside leather armchair speculating upon the thousands of litres of extraordinary Scotch whisky sleeping in casks beneath your feet, Queen Street is the epitome of the town clubroom where whisky is conspicuously consumed rather than purveyed. A gorgeous winding staircase takes you to the third floor bar, with views onto the city’s leafier pockets. I scanned the deep green wall of Society single cask bottlings in search of their newest one - 129.1 to be exact. Society newbie Dan was guided to a #35 by the efficient, friendly bar staff.

We found a group of seats in an adjoining room, beside a display of sample bottles which made for a very evocative stained glass window. Here I decided to become better acquainted with the latest distillery to find itself on the Scotch Malt’s books, the only fully independent distillery on Islay and one of my absolute favourites.

Scotch and sunlight conspiring beautifully.

129.1 2006 60.2% 235 bottles

Nose – creamy barley, brown sugar, pear drops and sharp smoke. This is clean but with a marked aggressive streak. Water made for a richer and darker experience with chocolate-dipped ice cream cone, cider apple and chunky tablet.

Palate – vanilla provides lubrication for clean maltiness and rolls of tobacco-like peat which moves into a finish of strong black tea.

In an attempt to show off the diversity of the Society, and their knack for rooting out the finest truffles of single casks, I went in search of a grain whisky. As we were in Edinburgh, I thought a dram from G1 was in order.

G1.5 1984 60.7% 245 bottles

Nose – buxom. Huge vanilla notes with apple and cinnamon. Leathery and rich with toasted coconut and creamy coconut emerging. A gorgeous spicy dryness. This has spent 24 years in very good wood indeed.

Palate – clinging wood oils, coconut and fat cereal grains. Another hit of spice with a spearmint character. Silky and sublime.

As we sipped, the conversation embraced numerous topics but an overarching theme was perhaps the nature of true passion and interest, where they took us and how pursuing, then enjoying them made us feel. For me, reclining with two whiskies of magnificent quality and personality as well as witty and charming people revived the best of memories while sparking new stories and intrigues. Amongst the sumptuous paraphernalia of the SMWS, flavour and fun returned from the fringes to the centre of my world.

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Knowing the Clearac

What does oak do for whisky? Now, I’m not about to embark upon yet another exposition of the science at the heart of the maturation process, the like of which can be found in every other magazine or blog. I’m not even going to refigure my many previous eulogies composed to exalt the profoundly powerful impressions shuffling through a dunnage warehouse elicits, or at least not entirely.

Instead, I’m going to begin with the claim that oak is PR, that it is the romantic dressings to whisky’s true inception. This thorny reality is that, for most single malts, their start in life betrays the clatter, hiss and heat of industrialism. When whisky floods through the spirit safe, what can really separate it from gin or vodka to the lay consumer? It is new make, a white dog; it is brutal and challenging. But it is honest, too.

The spirit safe: incubator of formative flavour.

Ten years later, however, with a bit of money thrown at some wood, the sales and marketing team can recoup some of their investment with packaging that declares, with all the sincerity of a sickly maitre d’, that your whisky has been matured in the ‘finest oak casks’. In the vast majority of cases, a lot of it has been thrown into whatever American oak hogshead has arrived into the filling store, or has been delivered to the central warehousing complex if new make is put into cask off-site.

Not enough, to bring this tirade to some sort of point, is said about the process at the distillery and the practiced nuances required to ensure the right character of spirit goes into the wood policy lucky dip. It seems strange to praise the maturation regime, one which few – if anyone – understands completely, whereas mashmen and stillmen have consistently precise calls to make to ensure that the whisky is up to scratch. My week at Balblair testified to this, and so too did in-depth visits to Benromach and Bruichladdich where infinitesimal adjustments to malt batch, peating levels and wash density must be made to guarantee that the appropriate flavours will sing out years down the line.

New make after a bit of ex-Bourbon blusher.

Dave Broom, in his World Atlas of Whisky, explains this accrual of marginal gains (to quote British Cycling) exceedingly well. Distillers must assume control over those parts of the whisky-making process which will yield to their influence. Though 60-70% of a single malt’s flavour will be owed to the cask, that 30-40% of direct distiller interference is keenly contested. To return to the dog metaphor, it is like training a two-month-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier that will ultimately have to adjust to a new owner. The example set at the beginning will prove critical. For Broom, our readily available single malts cannot be comprehended without that most limited and secretive of substances: new make. In the nature or nurture debate, a spirit’s encounters with oak incorporates and rejects both sides to varying degrees in order to assume its eventual character.

Recently, the Whisky Roundtable discussed new make, and so too did Joel and Neil in an excellent article for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Unfiltered magazine. More distillers are marketing single malts in their infancy to the delight of mixologists and whisky geeks. I still think, however, that more distilleries should provide a measure as part of their end-of-tour tastings. How better to bridge the gap between the smells of the distillery and the mature product on the shelves? New make can babble brilliantly, echoing the grist, the wort, the CO2 at the washbacks and those complex, heavy and heady aromas of esters and congeners coming into being at the spirit safe. Glencadam did, and that remains my favourite new make: puckeringly sweet and clinging, some of the soft yellow and green tropical fruits from the stainless steel washbacks could be detected.

Last week, however, I tried Auchentoshan’s new make spirit. Triple distilled, this was joyously intense with strawberry jam and pear on the nose, yellow citrus on the palate. Water pulled out plum yoghurt and sticky pot ale, a combination which recalled the delicate balance of waste and gain at the heart of distilling. In the mouth, I found cider apple and coconut. It was a fabulous insight into the selection process that three stills necessitates and how a delicate but full-throated flavour can be teased into existence and magnified.

When surveying the classifications of single malt species, knowing the new make makes a big difference. You always begin with a highly individual and complex animal which, whether dressed in Pedro Ximenez or Carribean rum or Sauternes, can never completely change its spots. To not hide those spots is another challenge for the distiller altogether.

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For Whisky, like Women; Is the Question of Age Still Off-limits?

It seems I am quite low down on the whisky blogger pecking order, but higher than I had suspected. Forty-eight hours or so after the debates began on What Does John Know? and the Edinburgh Whisky Blog amongst others, the press release concerning Chivas Brothers’ new consumer education campaign dropped into my inbox.

This is a fascinating topic, one that is both timely and crucial for the industry’s future. Experimentation and innovation are circling like a Viking mob whisky’s (and especially Scotch whisky’s) ancient castle keep with tradition, protectionism and legislation its bricks and mortar. Not only are people coming up with new ways of making and marketing whisky, but they are finding increasing popularity and plaudits for their efforts. Time, then, for the old guard to reassert some long upheld “truths”.

Let it be known that I am not enacting unreasonable militancy against the big corporate players. Without them, we would not have reached this glorious peak of single malt variety. I cannot help but feel, however, that Chivas, a branch of Pernod Ricard, are reacting in a rather heavy-handed way to the recent spate of no-age-statement bottlings proliferating on our retailers’ shelves. They commissioned a survey of 2,000 people who had purchased whisky in the previous month. They found that 94% believed that age was an indicator of quality; 93% believed that whiskies with a higher age statement were of a higher quality, and 89% look for an age statement before contemplating buying. Yet only 10% knew what the age statement referred to in relation to the contents of the whisky they sought to buy. Where has this prejudice come from, and who is responsible for further light not having been shed on the benighted 90% of the public? It is the whisky makers themselves in both cases.

Think about it, if the men in high office decide that they are going to commence stating an age, with all the legal requirements that such a declaration entails, they are going to devise an effective piece of marketing to coincide with it. Rather than necessarily inform the consumer what it means with bold exactitude, they are more likely to reassure the man or woman browsing the shelves that it means a better whisky for him or her. On my distillery tour, I encountered many casual tourists who, despite the best efforts of various guides, still had some trouble digesting the true definition behind the age statement. I cannot see how this is anyone’s fault bar the companies themselves. The misleading belief that older equals better suits them just fine.

So why are Chivas trying again now? As I mentioned above, the conservative approach to whisky marketing and labelling has taken quite a beating as smaller companies have whipped up serious committed followings for the younger products of their distilleries. The Glenmorangie Company is the inevitable case study, with both the Ardbeg and Glenmorangie ranges boasting NAS bottlings. Their success (with Rollercoaster, Uigeadail, Corryvreckan and Signet) would call into question the extent to which the attitudes found in the Chivas survey actually signify a devout adherence to age statements – shunning all others; or whether vague suspicions are not quite enough to deter some from purchasing one of these new and much-hyped whiskies of indeterminate age. My guess is that it is the latter, and this is why Chivas are pumping money, time and awareness into reviving the old prejudices.

Another reason for drawing the consumer back to age statements is that all of their needs could be satisfied by those brands in the Chivas stable. They style themselves as “the world’s leading producer of luxury Scotch whisky” and I’m fairly sure they base this on the fact that their portfolios contain bottles whose age statements reach and exceed 25-years-of-age in the case of Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet. An awful lot of Chivas whisky comes with a number on it. The perceived ignorance of the legal definition of age statements is a great opportunity to remind people of all the fine age-statemented whisky they have available.

The video on The Glenlivet website states the latest position of their owners loud and clear: “A guarantee of age. A guarantee of quality.” These are slogans, not truths, and they have not addressed the dearth of understanding, rather perpetuated the misconceptions. This is no time to aim for aphorisms for one cannot impart total understanding on this subject in a soundbite. In their press release they put forward the scenario that because “one of the greatest influences on the flavour of a whisky comes from maturation,” (no arguments there, this is consistent with the chemistry behind whisky making) “it follows that the longer the maturation period, the more complex the whisky.” Now this is frankly dangerous territory. In a piece of publicity with semantics such as “luxury”, “quality” and ”premium”, the word “complex” adopts connotations of desirability; perhaps inflated connotations. The implication is surely that older is better. Words have been used, and I suspect will be deployed again in the “point-of-sale materials, advertising and public relations” that will drive this campaign, to sell an idea about whisky, as opposed to deliver the low-down on the facts.

I won’t deny that it is a fairly reliable guide, but it does not always “follow” that complexity comes with age. I tried a single cask Caol Ila at 30-years-old that was very straightforward ex-Bourbon oak in flavour. The Kilchoman Second Release is one of the most complex malts I have tasted for quite some time and it is only a toddler at just over 3-years-old.  You must arm the consumer with more than this simplistic correlation masquerading as a rule if you are to set him or her away into the expanding and evolving world of single malt whisky. Say Consumer X starts out with Chivas Regal 12yo, moves on to Aberlour 10yo, then The Glenlivet 18yo and, having enjoyed this initial journey so much, maybe starts reading a few blogs, magazines or books, and decides he would like to pick up a single cask bottling at 21-years-of-age… and hates it. Say Consumer X is undetered and plumps for a 30yo from a distillery he has heard good things about, a special treat… and he hates that one, too. He has not, as Christian Porta of Chivas Brothers Ltd. asserts, been “empowered with knowledge”, at least, not the knowledge he needed. Why should it be the agenda to convince Customer X about “the value of what [he is] buying” in preference to the make up and process behind what he is buying? Only with that can Customer X work out why his 21 and 30yos were not to his taste, and make a different choice next time round. If his central, indeed sole, tenet is that older is better, where is he to go after his traumatic experiences? Most likely he will head straight out of this confusing, intimidating drinks sector and into another. Let’s not risk alientating new-comers by serving them absolutes. It is the drinks equivalent of “Teach a man to fish…” Whisky production is a complicated, unpredictable exercise all the quirks and foibles of which no-one truly understands. I appreciate that it is hardly effective marketing to proceed with the “ifs” and “buts”. I also accept that new customers want certainty, indeed, the very “transparency and authenticity” of which Porta speaks, so create a campaign that steers clear of the subjective and vague and sets out in more detail the true nature of the beast from the off.  That this topic has spawned the levels of discussion that it has demonstrates that this is not something a logo can clear up.

Just as the wood is “one of the greatest influences on the flavour of whisky”, the age is only one of the facts we need to be told to make a truly informed purchase. I would like to see information on the age, cask type, number of fills of cask, proportion of malt matured in each different cask (if there is more than one), peating level, filtration, colouring. If I was being really pernickety I would want to know if any and if so what proportion of whisky had been matured centrally or at the distillery itself. There is a long way to go but if the industry is committed to enlightening its customers then these steps will eventually be taken, and others feel the same. See Steffen Brauner’s comments on the WDJK? post.

Notice that I have not come out and denounced age statements themselves. I believe they are crucial information. It should be said, of course, that all whiskies have a minimum age, but this again depends on your knowledge of whisky laws. Nothing can be called whisky unless it is a minimum of 3-years-old. Anyway, the age statement helps me in my browsing because I know that an 8-10yo whisky will be quite bold and basic in its palette, with a liveliness. 18yo+ will probably be mellow, deep and, yes, complex. However, this is only as a result of past experience, not what any brand has told me. In addition, this is only what I expect age to have done to the whisky’s character and body. I don’t know what it will taste like. Novices may see an 18yo Laphroaig (a fine malt) and buy it believing it to be complex, and having been told that complex equals quality, quality equals good. But what if they don’t like complexity in the shape of peat, seaweed and oak? I think there needs to be a joint effort across the industry, began by Diageo’s Flavour Map, to classify by the sensory appreciation of a malt, not the obscure theoretical discrimination of quality care of maturity.

Lastly, I would keep age statements at all costs because that number, when properly understood, tells me, if nothing else, of the time and heritage behind what I am sipping. I’m still in a position where I can affordably drink whisky older than I am, and that is quite incredible when I think about it. I respect my elders, and a 25yo malt is something to savour and appreciate. Its creation and the means by which it has come to me were not carelessly left to chance and are not to be dismissed. It is in this sense that I agree with the “Investing in Age” section of The Glenlivet site. It is true that “there are no shortcuts in this process. Nothing can be rushed.” If the sole achievement of your campaign is that this is more widely understood, then you have done a great service to the industry, Chivas. I might not agree that “The Age Matters”, but age itself unquestionably counts for a great deal.

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